Jindal shields info on spill response

JINDAL SHIELDS INFO ON SPILL RESPONSE…. We’ve been talking the past few days about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who has decided to send only a fraction of the available National Guard troops to the coast to aid in the response to the BP oil spill. Jindal has given two different explanations, both of which falter under scrutiny.

Complicating matters, Jindal is keeping public access to his spill-response records to a minimum. (thanks to carolerae for the heads-up)

Gov. Bobby Jindal has vetoed a bill that would have required his office and agencies to grant public access to state records related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. […]

Jindal for years has lobbied to preserve broad exemptions for the governor’s office in Louisiana’s public records law. The House bill would have cracked open a category of records related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the state’s response.

“I’m saddened by his action, but not surprised,” said Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, who amended Smith’s public records bill to include the provision about the oil spill documents. “His excuse is he is afraid that BP would find out something Louisiana did, and I always thought justice was about the truth and facts.”

In explaining the rationale for the veto, Jindal said Louisiana will likely be in litigation with BP and others, and access to public records “could impact the state’s legal position.”

I’m not really in a position to know whether that’s true or not — I’m not an attorney — but if materials would be turned over to BP anyway through the discovery process, I wonder if Jindal might be more worried about what the public learns, not opposing counsel.

Either way, the result is the same — the public wants access to spill-related records, state lawmakers want transparency when it comes to spill-related records, and Jindal prefers secrecy. In the larger context, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

On a related note, Jed Lewison has a good item, summarizing some of the revelations in yesterday’s New York Times piece:

The basic story: Louisiana’s spill response plan was inadequate, largely because the state failed to fully develop a plan. As a result, instead of following a methodical, well-prepared plan, Bobby Jindal winged it, pursuing grandiose (and politically sexy) schemes that most state and local officials as well as experts consider counterproductive, such as Jindal’s proposed barrier islands.

Jindal and Republicans have worked aggressively of late to make it seem as if the Louisiana governor’s office has been a model of competence and efficiency, all the while taking shots at the Obama administration. The media has largely bought into the narrative, but as more information comes to light, there’s ample reason for skepticism.